Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spencer Tunick - underappreciated revolutionary?

Good ol' Spencer... I've known about him for quite a long time, and have always been intrigued at what he'd do next.

Recently though, an opinion has been raised that maybe his work is going downhill. It's not, just wait and see what he does next. The recent work certainly may not be his best, but the location wasn't the best either. If you've kept up with his work, you'd know that he normally chooses better locations than a simple hotel or a pool. I believe that the champagne shoot was merely him trying something new. Judging from the pictures, it appears that the people were having fun with it.

As for choosing to do an all-female shoot, it's certainly not his first. Back in June he did installations with 250 women and another with 250 men. Previously, he's kept a select group of women around after a large-scale shoot to do some other shoots. He's not being sexist -- it's very common and accepted for photographers and artists to prefer females. (I know this from previous studies.) Even most women photographers prefer to shoot women, and both males and females prefer to look at females. Why? Females are curvy, sleek, and have subtle sexual organs. Males are ridged, fuzzy, and have very overt sexual organs. This same preference can be seen with cars -- do you fancy the sleek curvy ones or the ones that look like a box? I'm just happy that Spencer is still doing mass shoots with anyone and everyone, instead of picking all women all the time.

America (and the world, really) needs a cultural shift into being more comfortable with nudity, to the point where clothing is worn when needed instead of from habit. Some say that being nude with others at some point should be mandatory. The only way to get people to realize the comforts of simple nudity is to strip them down in a positive environment. You and I don't even come close to achieving this task on the scale that is needed. Want to know who does?

In the last 4 years, Specer Tunick has stripped down 38,147 people in a nude-positive environment. A vast majority of those consider the experience of being nude with others quite liberating. (Us nudists already know all that, so I won't detail all the participant's descriptions.) My questions is: How many of those do you think try a nudist resort or beach later on? Or at least have a positive attitude towards nudity? Even 5% is a pretty significant number -- almost 2,000!

Spencer is certainly leading the way in liberating the masses -- I for one am cheering him on! (And even his copycats!)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Review & Guide: Mazo Beach

"Mazo Beach", as many call it, refers the famous nude beach in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. It's had plenty of press coverage over the last several years, and has been active since the 1950's. There are thousands of people who enjoy this unique beach for reasons which you will soon discover... Consider this an "everything you need to know" guide about the beach. If your just looking for a review, here you go: It's perfect, 10 out of 10 for a free beach, and is highly recommended. I've been going there as often as possible all summer. Now onward with the important stuff...

Legal Status:
The beach isn't "legal", but is instead "legal enough". People could still be charged with indecent exposure while enjoying the beach, but the court system has historically thrown out such cases because the beach is a traditional nude bathing area and therefore there's nothing indecent about the exposure. The DNR patrol the area regularly (since it's state-owned land) but only hand out tickets for violations worse than indecent exposure, such as having drugs or sex while at the beach, having glass bottles, or blowing sand at people while landing a helicopter on the beach. (Yes, that sort of stuff happens occasionally!) The news coverage generally lists a number of recorded violations at the beach -- the number is a bit high (sometimes over 100) because some of the DNR people are regulars to the beach and catch almost all violations that happen. There are also a number of people fighting to make it a textile beach. However, they are unable to win over the beach because several government officials (including some very high-up's) frequent the beach. Besides, they have their own textile beaches everywhere else along the Wisconsin River.

It has gotten a bit tougher over the years though. Currently, camping is no longer allowed on the beach or on the islands within the area. People are not allowed to be there during night hours. Lastly, there is no longer car traffic allowed along the gravel road, so beach-go'ers need to walk (or bike) the 1.2 mile long "trail" unless they are handicapped and can get a key from the DNR.

As with any nude beach or resort, it's mostly male. There are gay males that go, but they congregate at the south end of the beach. Don't worry about the "south-ender's" though -- they're far enough away to be out of sight, and the trouble they cause (a majority of the legal violations) is generally very rare. I've been in their area a few times and have never witnessed anything bad happening. The rest of the beach is much better in terms of demographics: During the week, there's usually less than 100 people, but a good weekend can see almost 1,000 visiting the beach. Women, some even single, make up probably 1/4 to 1/3 of the beach-goers. There are even a fair number of kids, since the place is a great family weekend get-away. I've seen a peak of about 10 families around with the kids all playing at the shore. It's not just kids that are playing around -- people love to bring their dogs with too. Lastly, I should mention age. This beach doesn't suffer the age problem as most resorts do. Older people want a place to live that they can drive to. Mazo beach doesn't let people camp, and people must walk or bike the 1.2 mile trail to get there. Older people don't want to do that, so the beach is full of younger and middle-aged physically fit people.

There are several regulars that are there almost daily, and even more that try to go every weekend. The regulars do an excellent job of keeping the beach clean! They are very friendly, and will likely come over and visit with you at some point. They know who the newbies are, and they know who the troublemakers are. (The troublemakers get kicked out quick. Also, people with camera's are very closely watched -- it's best not to bring one. If you really want a picture, ask a regular to take one for you otherwise keep it put away.) They are great at keeping a friendly and safe environment for everyone.

It's not just the regulars though -- everyone that we've met has been outstanding! Everyone has a positive attitude regarding the beach and they all keep the place safe, fun, and social. Several even bring games on the weekends -- there's usually a few different volleyball nets and other games around. The culture here is just as good as any resort, and way better than all other beaches I've been to so far.

Mazo beach is along the Wisconsin River, north-west of Mazomanie. It's a good-sized area of sandy beach, with two nearby islands that you can walk to. The river is shallow but gets deeper towards the southern end of the beach. The shallow water gets heated by the sun, which makes sitting in the river very pleasant. The river is frequented by canoers. They have the option of going on the far-side of the islands and skipping past the nude beach, but many take the near-side and smile on their way by or stop and join in for a bit. If you want to skip the 1.2 mile trail, boating in is certainly an option too.

The scenery is beautiful. It's all river and bluffs -- out of sight from civilization. After my beach visits in tropical Australia, I was still blown away by Mazo beach. It's the most beautiful river-beach I have ever seen! Watching the ducks, geese, turtles, and humans is the perfect way to relax and enjoy nature the way it should be. Since a lot of the willow trees were cut down (to increase turtle sex and decrease human sex), the area looks a lot more open than it used to. The only problem with the area is the trail -- it's a mosquito hangout. The beach has some gnats but is mostly insect free.

You're First Visit:
Park HERE and follow the other people. The trail is always busy with people. If possible, bring a bike, otherwise pile on some bug spray and start walking. Bring a towel to lay on or a chair to sit in -- whatever is comfortable for you. Bring the bug spray with to prepare for the walk back. Make sure to bring food and water! Bring everything that you need for the amount of time that you'll be there. There's a porta-potty at the main parking lot, and another at the mini-lot right by the beach. (You need to be dressed in both of those areas.) Once you make it to the edge of the beach, the layout is as follows: To the far left (beyond what you can see) is the "south-enders". To the far right and the whole back the back of the beach (where you're at) are the people who want a bit of privacy. In front along the waterfront are the rest of the population (and the regulars), who are all probably chatting endlessly. You have the choice to hang back and probably not be bothered by anyone, or head to the front and meet some people. I highly recommend that you meet some people! Beyond the water is two islands, which probably also have a few people at them. I recommend that you walk out to them at some point just to enjoy the water and view of the beach. Note that only the main beach is the "traditional" nude bathing area, and it's more likely that you'll get a ticket if you wander. It's proper to undress after you find a place on the beach -- don't undress or otherwise be naked in the mini-lot. Please help out by keeping the beach clean and safe, both trash-wise and people-wise. Enjoy you're visit, because I know you'll love it and be back for more!

Other notes:
Beach location; Dated photos; The overly outdated sites; The Badger Naturists site.

Nudists aren't supposed to walk out to the island, since it's beyond the traditional nude bathing area. If you stay on the beach-side, you'll be OK for a quick visit. If you go on the other side, which is right on the main channel, the DNR and people on the river get angry.